We?ll start off easy with a quick reflection on your 2000 campaign. When did you get back in the States this past spring?
March, first Tour stop.
So you?re here under the hired gun strategy, come over at the beginning of the Tour, bail at the end of the Tour. How was it overall for you?
Pretty good. I had a few sponsor changes halfway through the year. I changed from Iconn to Nirve and that?s been working out really good for me. The Tour went pretty good. I finished tenth on the Tour and seventh on the World Cup, both steps up from the year before.
Do you think it was important to have that incremental increase?
Yeah, it definitely was. This year I felt a big change in just being a wakeboarder to really being a wakeboarder. You know what I mean? Having more to do on the business side like contracts and photo shoots and just actually doing it as a full-time job. It?s always going to be fun, but it?s not time to play anymore. You?ve got to set goals and try to get to where you want to get.
Your last board sponsor had a lot of troubles and didn?t meet their responsibilities to you. When you got over to Nirve, your riding started clicking. Did that have anything to do with the business side of your affairs getting taken care of?
Yeah, I?m pretty sure it is. Like when you?re traveling, working, riding good, making the top 10 and the finals every week ? you have television time every week as well. So, being with a company that you?re not getting a paycheck from every month kind of stresses you out. I think when you?re comfortable with your sponsors and how they?re set up, it makes you ride a lot better; you can free your mind. You know your check is going to come in the mail every month. So I think it relaxes you more and you?re not worried about your money.
You?re not just contest riding, though. You?re influential around O-Town building stuff. Talk about that addition to the sport and riding and the building of obstacles. How come you?re so into that?
You look at skateboarding and snowboarding and they have a bunch of different sliders, ramps and that kind of stuff; I think it mixes it up quite a bit rather than the same stuff from one side to the other, which pretty much is like the same wake. When you?ve got obstacles out in the water, it?s fun to hit. You can get up there and spin on the pipes, hit kickers and be 10-15 feet in the air. It?s more exciting for the crowd to watch. I would just like to see it get a bit gnarlier and have bigger stuff instead of rainbows that are a couple of feet high. Instead of 40 feet long, we should have 10-foot gaps that are 10 feet high!
Something that will separate the men from the boys?
So to speak.
Do you think that is going to be a measuring stick instead of how many mobes you could do being reflective of the kind of rider you were. Do you think that?s going to be critical criteria in how a rider is perceived?
I think that?s the most important thing in the sport. From both sides of it, you can have a free-rider that can rip on sliders but when it comes to the wake, they?re not going as big or not as technical. I think to be the best rider you can, you should mix it up. Whether you free-ride or competition ride, you should be able to do mobes, spins, Raley tricks, hit kickers, mobes, sliders. You know, it?s the man that can go out there and do everything. Like Parks, Parks is a good exampple, whether it?s cable, to boat, to free-ride, to sliders. You know the kid does everything, and I think there should be more people trying to get out and mix it up, learn more tricks off the wake and sliders.
Now you mentioned Parks. Who are some of the other guys whose riding you admire?
I just said I like Parks because he just does everything and he has a talent. You tell him a trick and within a couple of tries he?s got it. Then I love Darin, because Darin is so dedicated to the sport and he?s won it all. He?s been on Tour for 10 years, and he still goes bigger than anyone, more technical than anyone, takes care of more than just the riding side of things. He?s a businessman; I admire that a lot. I like Gregg a lot because he?s so aggressive. He just doesn?t stop. He?s like a little Energizer Bunny out in the water. He mixes it up a lot. Greg is not one that is just going to do something because he can do it. Instead of doing a mobe, he?ll jump the wake. But he?ll be like six feet in the air and 20 feet out in the flats with a double grab. There are not many people doing that kind of thing, so I like his style.
Do you feel that it?s in your realm of skills to achieve things that you?re seeing out there?
Yeah, definitely. Everything is just a matter of how you apply yourself to it. When you?ve got good board-control skills and you can watch someone do something, then that?s it. You might bust ass the first couple of times you try, but usually you can work out what you?re doing wrong from your takeoff.
When you go back home, are you going to have an opportunity to do some riding?
Yeah. I?m heading home and I?m going to start up a wakeboard shop and a wakeboarding school in my hometown.
You?re only gone for 2 1/2 months this time. It keeps getting shorter and shorter. When are you going to apply for your citizenship over here?
I?ll never get my citizenship. I might get a green card and try to leave for a couple of years, but I?ll always be an Aussie.